During my last week on board the Anastasis, I compiled a mental list of those things I would NOT miss when I moved to the Africa Mercy. It includes:
- Kona cruisers: large cockroaches that appeared most frequently after I returned from an extended absence. For the first few mornings after my return, I would dance with them in the shower as they emerged from the drain and crept up my legs. Without my contacts in my only hope of seeing them was to catch a glimpse of a moving blur as my feet did a jig, first to knock them off and then to try to avoid crushing them. There was also the time I went for a walk in the evening and thought my sock was bunched up under my foot. Instead, I was squishing a Kona cruiser that had found a dark hiding place in my sneaker!
- Exploding toilets. This was a problem when flushing was turned back on after being turned off for a while. If you didn't know that the flushing had been turned off, your first clue was usually the rusty seawater fountain that erupted when you flushed. Always good to flush with the lid down. Some toilets also flush with a roar under the best of circumstances. My first night back on board last year, I flew out of bed to look for a flood in my bathroom and discovered the racket was merely a neighbor flushing her toilet.
- Slamming doors. The door from upper deck to aft deck by the bicycle rack. My cabin was right next to this, which meant I heard all the slams. I've been blessed with the ability to tune out most sounds, but after we had an intruder on board, they began locking the exterior doors at night. Each night there seemed to be someone who would go outside and not know the code to get back in, so he would rattle the door for several minutes. I never did adjust to that.
- The chance to create storage out of nooks and crannies and unexpected places. With some initial inspiration from one of my early cabinmates, I began to see storage everywhere. Screws were replaced with hinges and a latch and my dropped ceiling became an attic. Raise a bed a foot or so, install sliding doors and voila, storage large enough to hold my motorcycle helmets as well as the ingredients for chocolate chip and no bake cookies (this too was the inspiration of another cabinmate). An electrical substation could become a pharmacy with high density, mobile shelving and a dark, dirty room could become a bright ward and later a crew clinic/office area. Shelves, cabinets, furniture, boxes...if there was space, I organized it and made it functional. Can't do that on the Africa Mercy, unless I can figure out a way to hang it with magnets! Plus, there aren't that many nooks and crannies.
- That leads me to the next thing I will miss: the nooks and crannies, the odd turns of a corridor or bulkhead, the curved walls and original Italian art, even the 'fried egg' lamps. The Africa Mercy is very clean and institutional. Long straight corridors, doors always closed (fire regulations)...she hasn't yet developed a personality.
- Toilets that generally flush, and if "flushing is off," then you can still bucket flush. My toilet hasn't worked very often on the Africa Mercy and when it doesn't, bucket flushing isn't an option.
- The graceful lines of the exterior. The boxy exterior of the Africa Mercy fails to measure up to the regal bearing of the Anastasis. While the Anastasis is a slim, graceful princess, the Africa Mercy is a frumpy dowager. As I said in an earlier post, though, her beauty lies in what she brings to Africa rather than her appearance.